MelodiesA brief alternate history of the keytar-playing weirdo who did the Miami Vice theme and then took up grimacing with Neil Schon can be discovered in the following: John Abercrombie's Timeless, Jeremy Steig's Energy, Billy Cobham's Spectrum, Horacee Arnold's Tales of the Exonerated Flea, Frank Foster's The Loud Minority, Harvey Mason's Earthmover, the Tony Williams Lifetime’s Joy of Flying, a few Elvin Jones albums, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the musician's own Like Children and The First Seven Days. There's also Melodies, a Jan Hammer Group album released on Nemperor in 1977. It was a brief change of pace: eleven songs, generally funk-soul-pop in nature, with Hammer's playing more sensitive and textural than normal. He wrote three of the album's best songs with his wife. The most touching one of the three is the spongy, swirling "Don't You Know," which might have invented (certain aspects of) Air (the French version). Then there's "I Sing," a space-folk number written by Fernando Saunders.

Compare, contrast, swoon:

  • Jan Hammer Group - Don't You Know

  • Jan Hammer Group - I Sing

  • Air - Les Soleil Est Près de Moi

  • Air - Californie

  • Air - Kelly Watch the Stars

In 1999, the heroic Wounded Bird label commemorated the 22nd anniversary of Melodies by issuing the album on CD for the first time. Four years later, Kirk Degiorgio and Ian O'Brien selected "Don't You Know" for inclusion on their third Soul of Science compilation, and in 2006, Degiorgio's Beauty Room covered that very song.

  • The Beauty Room - Don't You Know

Hammer's influence endures, spans decades -- centuries, even. Your grandkids' grandkids will know all about him. "Miami Vice (Instrumental)" will be looked upon as a mere footnote in the man's career.